Revisiting the Gow Lake impact structure, Saskatchewan, Canada

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The ~5 km diameter Gow Lake impact structure formed in the Canadian Shield of northern Saskatchewan approximately 197 Myr ago. This structure has not been studied in detail since its discovery during a regional gravity survey in the early 1970s. We report here on field observations from a 2011 expedition that, when combined with subsequent laboratory studies, have revealed a wealth of new information about this poorly studied Canadian impact structure. Initially considered to be a prototypical central peak (i.e., a complex) impact structure, our observations demonstrate that Gow Lake is actually a transitional impact structure, making it one of only two identified on Earth. Despite its age, a well-preserved sequence of crater-fill impactites is preserved on Calder Island in the middle of Gow Lake. From the base upward, this stratigraphy is parautochthonous target rock, lithic impact breccia, clast-rich impact melt rock, red clast-poor impact melt rock, and green clast-poor impact melt rocks. Discontinuous lenses of impact melt-bearing breccia also occur near the top of the red impact melt rocks and in the uppermost green impact melt rocks. The vitric particles in these breccias display irregular and contorted outlines. This, together with their setting within crater-fill melt rocks, is indicative of an origin as flows within the transient cavity and not an airborne mode of origin. Following impact, a hydrothermal system was initiated, which resulted in alteration of the crater-fill impactites. Major alteration phases are nontronite clay, K-feldspar, and quartz.




Osinski, G. R., Coulter, A. B., Flemming, R. L., Ozaruk, A., Pickersgill, A. E., & Singleton, A. C. (2023). Revisiting the Gow Lake impact structure, Saskatchewan, Canada. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 58(6), 775–788.

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